The Volunteer Check-up: 11 Vital Questions Leaders Should Ask Their Volunteers

Your volunteer teams don’t replace the Holy Spirit, but they are His hands and feet in your church and community. They are where the “rubber meets the road” when it comes to serving people, showing God’s love, and helping outsiders feel like they’re at home in your building.

You don’t need convincing that your job would be way WAY harder if your volunteers decided to boycott one weekend. You’d be in a pretty difficult situation.

You’re so aware of it that you’ve built systems to avoid a mass exodus from your team. You have a system to show appreciation, to schedule people far in advance, to make sure your volunteers are trained well, and to communicate all your ministry info regularly.

But one thing I’ve found that so many ministry leaders don’t do is also one of the most important things you could possibly do. It’s so important, in fact, that the more I interact with ministry leaders and find out that they’re NOT doing this, the more shocked I am.

It’s simple, too. Which is partly why it’s so amazing that it doesn’t happen!

Let’s Talk About My Teeth

Get ready for a purposeful detour…

I am blessed with amazingly healthy teeth. They’re not perfectly straight or gleaming white, but they’ve always been incredibly healthy. I’ve never had a cavity or needed a tooth pulled.

Of course, I do the normal teeth cleaning stuff like brushing twice daily and flossing and using mouthwash. My routine is incredibly normal. Nothing extreme.

My annual dentist appointment is always interesting, too. My dentist is always surprised that my teeth are in such good shape with no repairs needed in my 33 years of chewing ice and loving candy.

Despite my dental fortitude, I still go to the dentist. Why? Because a history of past health doesn’t guarantee future health. I go to the dentist because I want to STAY healthy and get ahead of any potential threats before they become a real health concern.

The Volunteer Check-up

Most of your volunteers are probably a lot like my teeth. They’re stay pretty healthy on their own as long as you take care of them. You shower them with appreciation and keep them tightly trained. Good!

But volunteers, like teeth, can start to get unhealthy over time, even with the best care from a volunteer team leader. You can take care of your volunteers better than their own mothers, but you’ll inevitably find that many volunteers will wane in their engagement and effectiveness over time.

That’s where the volunteer check-up comes into play.

If you want to prevent a volunteer extraction where you have to painfully pull a volunteer off the team with a pair of pliers and some laughing gas, do the volunteer check-up. If you want to avoid volunteers falling out of the team like a bad tooth, do the volunteer check-up. If you want to skip the weeks and months of painful aching that a bad volunteer will give you, do the check-up.

The volunteer check-up is a simple series of questions that gauge the engagement and happiness of each volunteer on your team. You’ll learn who is bought in and sold out. You’ll find out who’s happy and who’s miserable. You’ll even get the skinny on which volunteers are ready for that next level…leadership.

11 Vital Questions for your Volunteer Check-ups

Here’s a list of 11 questions you need to ask during your volunteer check-ups.

  1. What do you enjoy most about serving in your ministry role?
  2. What one change would you suggest to make your ministry experience even better?
  3. What do we do really well in this ministry area?
  4. How do you feel before and after you serve each week?
  5. How much fun do you have when you serve?
  6. When you serve, do you feel like you are directly contributing to the mission of Jesus?
  7. Do you feel ready and equipped for your role each week?
  8. Do you feel personally connected to those you serve with?
  9. Do you feel like you are heard and valued by your ministry team leaders?
  10. Do you feel like you’re “in the loop” about what’s going on in this ministry area?
  11. Have you encouraged or recruited anyone to serve with you in the last year?

The core of these questions get to the heart of your volunteer. You want to know about their motivations and what makes them love their volunteer role. You want to be able to see gaps in meaning and purposefulness that they feel.

This check-up can happen anywhere. You can make this a personal interview over coffee at your local drip shop. You can print it as a written survey. Or you can send it as an email or an online form. The format and environment depends on your leadership style and your relationship to your team.

When you’re ready to do the check-up, I’d love to chat with you personally to talk through it before your first meeting happens or survey is sent. No strings attached…just a conversation. Chatting with ministry leaders about leading and loving on volunteers is one of my favorite things. Shoot me an email.

 

About Scott Magdalein

Scott Magdalein is the founder of TrainedUp. Previously, he worked as project manager for YouVersion and Church Online, a software developer at Treehouse, a digital director for an ad agency, and as an Executive Pastor in multiple local churches. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife and three kids.